In this interview with Bethia Idoko, model, tourist and philanthropist who has continued to touch the lives of the less privileged and orphans in the society, she reiterates to Chiemelie Ezeobi how much of a blessing comes from giving
You don’t have a non-governmental organisation or foundation, so why are you so passionate about less privileged and orphans?
I have been doing this for a while and this is actually the ninth edition. I do it every time basically for the kids especially on Valentine’s Day which symbolises love. I mean, they are orphans and those of us thankfully or luckily that are not orphans have people to show us love all over, but for this young kids here, they basically don’t have as much love as they should because they didn’t grow up with physical mother-father -family kind of life. So, every year I gather family; my parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Idoko, my siblings; Josh, Loveth, Zephanie, Kaptain and friends to the Little Saints Orphanage, Akowonjo, because it makes them very happy and it leaves me satisfied. It is such a blessing to give to these kids. I see them beyond their immediate environment. In them I see the future.
Something must have happened to prompt this, so for you, what was that defining moment that the decision sprang up?
Actually nothing, I just really love to help in any way that is possible for me and this is a very easy avenue and I just think it’s a worthy course because if people like me and you don’t come out to do this thing for the kids, nobody will. I also donate my time and money to another social advocacy that helps children; the Slum to School Project (S2S) founded by Otto Orondaam. The group puts children in slums in school free of charge and so far, the over 500 volunteers have succeeded in enrolling over 800 kids in school at no cost to their struggling parents. When I see such less privileged and orphaned children, one thing I can certainly say is that the future lies with them that won’t be actualised if enough attention is not being paid to them.
So what influenced your choice of Little Saints Orphanage Akowonjo as against others?
Well actually, Little Saints is the first orphanage that I was exposed to. It was the first I knew because it’s kind of popular and they have a whole lot of children so they’ve got four different branches; at Palm Groove, Ojodu and Abule Egba for the boys hostel, girls hostel and physically challenged kids respectively. Basically, why I do it in this particular branch is because it’s the biggest of all the branches but we bring in the kids from the other three branches. So, they bring all of them to this particular branch for the party.
Where do we see this project in the next five years? Any plans to expand to other places?
Honestly, I hope it’s big enough to take it out of here and probably take the kids out of their immediate environment. I’ve always looked forward to taking the kids out, by the special grace of God. I have a good rapport with the founder, Mrs. Dele George, she’s known me for nine years so am hoping that if I approach her with the request of taking the kids out, probably to see a movie or go and have fun in a proper restaurant. That’s what I would like, to take them to somewhere they can have a lot of fun much more than almost been boxed here. I hope it gets to that stage.
Any plans to start a non-governmental organisation soon?
Do you know how demanding and consuming it is to take care of children with special needs? That is why we should all do our possible best to encourage those in the field, both financially and physically. It is very tasking even if you have one child in the house, you know how demanding it is how much more 120 children, especially boys. The Akowonjo branch has 50 boys from the ages of 1-18. Such orphanages depend on people like us. We don’t all have to start our own foundations and orphanages yet still impact lives by supporting those that have the courage to start. I encourage other members of the society to do likewise to the children and be a blessing to them, put a smile on their faces. Let them be expectant and let them know that society cares for them.
What advice do you have for other public-spirited individuals?
I urge them to look at the immense potentials inherent in these kids and help to nurture it by their contributions. When I see such kids, I see huge potentials that are not being tapped and it spurs me to do better. Everybody can do this because this is one of the best things ever. The feeling is just second to none. After each occasion, it’s a guarantee; I would sleep very well that night because of the absolute satisfaction that you indeed ministered to their needs. According to Mrs. Bose Ogunbanjo, the coordinator, Akowonjo branch, the orphanage which was established since June 4, 1994, takes care of orphaned, abused and abandoned children and they get these children through the police the medium of social welfare. It’s one of the first licensed private orphanages in Nigeria. I have been successful with my passion because my family believes in my vision and they push me more. I mean, they keep telling me that my vision would soon explode and that within the next five years, I will go places beyond this country. What inspiration can be greater than that?